Experiencing any type of head pain can be traumatic and it's important to understand the type of headache that you have. Many people who experience migraines may confuse them with headaches, particularly cluster headaches. But migraines are not just severe headaches. They're a neurological disorder with many different subtypes. Continue reading to learn the difference between migraine and cluster headache.
Migraines affect up to one billion people worldwide. They affect men, women, and children with women being the largest group to suffer from them. One in five women will experience migraines on a regular basis. Migraines and cluster headaches are often confused and in the past the terms have been used interchangeably. But the two types are very different and require different types of treatment.
The difference between migraine and cluster headache:
The difference between migraine and cluster headache: There are actually some similarities between migraines and cluster headaches, which is why they may sometimes be confused with one another. Both migraines and cluster headaches typically have one-sided pain.
Congestion is also a common symptom that can occur in both types of head pain, although more typically with cluster headaches. Unfortunately, this is generally where the similarities end.
Both migraines and cluster headaches cause intense pain but they can act and feel completely different. To begin with, people with migraines generally experience nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Cluster headaches tend to come on more quickly than migraines as a lot of migraines come with aura or visual disturbances that can precede any pain. Cluster headaches also tend to depart more quickly than migraines. A migraine can last anywhere from 2 to 72 hours, but cluster headaches usually don't last more than three hours.
The difference between migraine and cluster headache: The pain can be severe for both types, but cluster headaches tend to be even more severe than migraines, with a sharp burning pain that comes on suddenly but decreases quickly. In addition, people with cluster headaches tend to be agitated and restless, whereas migraine sufferers prefer a quiet, dark space. Cluster headaches generally come in cycles or patterns but migraines may have no predictable pattern and can occur one time or many times over a monthly cycle. With cluster headaches, it's rare to get just one. Patients will usually get several in a series and can get them regularly for weeks or months at a time.
The difference between the two types also extends to the sexes. Women tend to get more migraines than men, with men experiencing more cluster headaches than women. All in all, about 37 million Americans can suffer from migraines compared to about one million cluster headache sufferers.
Many factors can trigger migraines such as hormones, sleep disturbances, missing meals, certain medications, bright sunlight, and fluorescent lights. The cause of cluster headaches, on the other hand, is still relatively unknown. While both migraines and cluster headaches can cause severe pain, the causes and cures of both are different.
It's important to have the correct diagnosis to find relief because the same medications that may help alleviate a cluster headache may do nothing to take away the pain of a migraine.
Make sure to see a doctor if you have chronic head pain or aren't sure which type of headache you have.